He is The Supervet who has saved hundreds of Britain’s beloved pets.
But here Noel Fitzpatrick reveals how it was his own loyal animals, terrier Keira and Maine Coon cat Ricochet, who saved him during the most testing times.
So when Keira was run over last month his world was plunged into darkness.
And she’s not out of the woods yet, as he writes in this heart-wrenching extract from his new book, How Animals Saved My Life: Being The Supervet…
“Keira and Ricochet have given me all the love in the world. When the darkness of the world is closing in and I’m in bits, I lie on my bed with Ricochet or Keira, or both of them.
“Their unconditional love glues me back together so I wake up the next day a little bit healed, ready to pick up the pieces for all the other animals and people I care for. I have been made whole again by the love of these two animals who have saved my life. Both Keira and Ricochet sat close as I learned to cope after breaking my neck in an accident that could have killed me.
“From the very beginning of Fitzpatrick Referrals, Keira has been with me, loyal, steadfast, a singular constant through the vagaries of my life.
“She never ceases to make me happy. I love her more than I can describe – a deep connectedness that I can only feel and can’t adequately express.
“Keira was 13 years old on September 16, 2020. We had a wonderful snuggle before lights out, with her snoring beside my bed. Two nights later I was holding her limp head in my arms not knowing if she would live another hour.
“On the evening of September 18 it was the routine of very many Friday nights when we would go home having slept at the practice in the week. I was leaving the building as always by the back door.
“I was carrying a box under my left arm, so I opened the door with my right hand, holding it open with my foot long enough for Keira to skip through.
“My car was no more than 25 feet away in the car park, and I was halfway across the driveway when lights came around the corner at great speed.
“I screamed and put my arms in the air, throwing the box to one side. ‘Stop, stop!’
“Within a second the van was upon me. I lunged back and in that split second saw Keira tootle past. I lurched forwards to try to grab her, it was too late; I could not have been more than two feet away from the front-right wheel as she instinctively crouched. I grasped frantically for any part of her, finally reaching her head. I heard the cracking and ripping of bones breaking and flesh tearing as she screamed. I screamed. I thought the tyre had driven over her back end and she was dead. The delivery van screeched to a halt and intern Cristina ran to help me. I bundled Keira’s limp body in my arms and within seconds was in the preparation area of the practice, yelling for help. Another few seconds and there were at least 10 people there, holding her, holding me, swinging into action.
“My colleague Padraig Egan took control. I was crying uncontrollably. Padraig gently put his hand on my shoulder and told me to step back.
“Intern Lisa and resident Joana held me up as I sobbed in deep shock and looked on helplessly. I was a liability. No good to the team. I just stood there mumbling, crying, shaking. Would she ever walk again? Or would she die from shock immediately or soon?
“We needed to get painkillers and intravenous fluids on board and get her stabilised. I was still shaking with fear as the team took her to X-ray and then for
a CT scan.
“Keira finally rested peacefully, stabilised by drugs, as we scoured the scans.
“Her pelvis was crushed and she had separated the ilium of her pelvis from her sacrum. There were possibly fissures in the sacrum and she had dislocated her right hip joint. I was scared.
“However, because any internal organ damage and haemorrhage was potentially life-threatening, now wasn’t the time to focus on fractures.
“Profoundly shocked, she had stayed motionless throughout. We’d need to stabilise her vital functions and monitor for internal damage. I felt helpless and went home to Ricochet. My team would sit by her side all night long.
“Unfortunately, when I returned next morning, Keira was getting worse, rapidly. I stroked her head, overwhelmed with fear. We responded immediately and I called our Oncology and Soft Tissue surgery hospital. Keira was critical. Toxic shock was setting in. The impact had ruptured her urinary bladder and had ripped the lining of her abdomen off the muscles on the underside of her spine. She was bleeding internally, her abdomen full of toxic urine.
“She would die if surgeon Jonathan Bray didn’t operate immediately.
“Jon did an amazing job, on that day, at least, he saved Keira.
“For three days she was critical. On September 27 I stood in theatre. Unfortunately, tissues around the pelvis and the bones were severely damaged and displaced.
“She was under anaesthesia for eight hours 10 minutes. It was a nightmare. But I had done my very best for my baby girl. I sat with her for a while in recovery as she breathed oxygen and slept on her mixture of painkillers. I kissed her forehead, telling her I loved her. As I write this it’s 24 hours after surgery. I have just lain beside her in the wards. She woke up enough to lick my face.
“She knew Daddy was there, but her breathing was heavy and the light was gone from her eyes.
“I truly remain full of hope that the right thing will happen for my little girl. I am so grateful for the love and light she has shared with me and I pray the light won’t fade from her eyes for long.”
Extracted by Rhian Lubin from How Animals Saved My Life: Being the Supervet by Noel Fitzpatrick, published by Trapeze today, £20 in hardback. Available in ebook and audiobook. Text copyright Fitz All Media Limited 2020.